Eyewitnesses at the scene reported that 23-year-old Paul Ciancia approached individuals, asking, “Hey, are you TSA?”. As they told him “no,” he moved on. One of the travellers questioned told Anderson Cooper that Ciancia approached him calmly, asked “TSA?” and walked away when he received a “no.” “I just shook my head,” Saryan said. “And he kept going.”
At a TSA search point, Ciancia pulled out an assault rifle from his bag and opened fire, making Hernandez the first TSA officer in history to be killed in the line of duty. Two other officers were also shot.